Radicalisation of teens a worry

The 14-year-old Malaysian girl (left) suspected of attempting to head to Syria and join the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group was arrested before she could board a Cairo-bound flight at KL International Airport.

Recent cases of teenagers who become radicalised online have drawn concern among security officials in the region and beyond.

In February this year, principal assistant director Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay of Malaysia's Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division warned that the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was trying to lure girls as young as 14 and 15 into becoming militant brides.

His remarks came as police detained a 14-year-old girl from Muar, Johor, who had been in contact with militants in Syria, before she could board a flight to Cairo that month. She was to marry a 22-year-old student and had tried to travel without her family's consent, The Star reported.

But others managed to leave for Syria undetected. They included university student Syamimi Faiqah, 20, who left last October and was reported to have been planning to marry a Malaysian fighter, a former member of a rock band.

In Britain, close school friends Amira Abase, 15, Shamima Begum, 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, were reported missing by their families in February and were later seen on closed-circuit television in Istanbul just before they left for Syria.

They are believed to have married ISIS fighters.

Here are recent cases of young people radicalised by ISIS who were detained in their countries:

Where: Austria

When: May 26, 2015

A 14-year-old Austrian boy who downloaded bomb-making plans to his PlayStation video game console was convicted of terrorism and sentenced to a two-year jail term.

The teen was accused of trying to bomb a Vienna train station and had allegedly been in contact with ISIS recruiters as well as Al- Qaeda supporters.

He had planned to carry out the attack before travelling to Syria to join ISIS, but was arrested last October.

Where: Canada

When: May 19, 2015

The Canadian authorities announced that 10 would-be militants were arrested over the weekend of May 16 and 17 at a Montreal airport as they were waiting to board a flight to Turkey. There, the teenagers planned to cross the border to neighbouring Syria, where they hoped to join ISIS. The youngest members of the group were only 15 years old, while their friends were no older than 18.

Where: Australia

When: April 18, 2015

Australian police arrested five teenagers in Melbourne linked to an alleged attack plan inspired by ISIS.

One of them, Sevdet Besim, 18, was charged with conspiring to commit a terrorist act on Anzac Day, a national day of remembrance that falls on April 25 and commemorates fallen Australian and New Zealand troops.

A 14-year-old boy in Britain was also arrested on the same day in connection with the planned attack.

Where: South Africa

When: April 5, 2015

A 15-year-old South African girl was pulled from a flight moments before leaving the country to join ISIS. Like the Canadian teenagers arrested in Montreal, the unnamed girl was also headed for Turkey, from where she allegedly planned to cross into Syria

This article was first published on May 28, 2015.
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